Harold Adrian Wade, O.P., aka Adrian M. Wade, O.P.
Harold Maynard Wade, Jr., was born in Portland, ME, on February 13, 1921, the son of Harold M. Wade, Sr., and Margaret J. Hebert. He attended Butler Elementary School in Portland, Brunswick High School in Brunswick, ME, and graduated from Cheverus Catholic High School in Portland in 1939. He spent part of World War II in the U. S. Merchant Marines, serving as a radio officer on a Liberty Ship all over the world. Following the war, he enrolled in the University of Ottawa in Canada, where he spent two years before entering the Order of Preachers as a novice at St. Rose Priory in Springfield, KY, in 1949, receiving the religious name Adrian.
Following his simple profession on September 15, 1950, he and his classmates moved on to St. Joseph's Priory in Somerset, OH, for their philosophical studies. Theological studies followed solemn profession at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C,, on September 15, 1953. Father Wade was awarded the S.T.B. degree before his ordination to the priesthood at St. Dominic's Church in Washington, D.C,, on June 8, 1956. Bishop Edward Celestine Daly, O.P., S.T.M., of Des Moines, IA, was the ordaining prelate.
Father Wade's first assignment was as a lecturer in history at Aquinas High School in Columbus, OH, although he returned every summer to Washington, in order to pursue a master's degree in Medieval History from the Catholic University of America. From Columbus, Father Wade moved on to Providence College, where he lectured in history and served for a time as College Chaplain. In 1967, he moved to Kalamazoo, MI, in order to engage in campus ministry at St. Thomas More Student Parish at Western Michigan University. From 1970 until 1975, he was campus minister at Grand Valley State College in Allendale, MI. It was during this time that he served briefly as Prior of the Dominican Community at St. Thomas Aquinas Priory in Grand Rapids, MI. In 1975, Father Wade returned to the House of Studies on a sabbatical.
The Diffinitory of the Provincial Chapter of 1976 called upon Father Wade to succeed Father James Reginald Coffey, O.P., as Archivist of the Province. Father Wade served the province with great devotion in this capacity for the next twelve years. It was during this period that Father Wade began a close association with the National Holy Name Society as its Dominican Spiritual Director. He also showed great interest in and support of the cause for the canonization of Blessed John of Vercelli, O.P., the great Dominican promoter of devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. While at the House of Studies, Father Wade also served as Assistant Chaplain at the U.S. Soldiers' Home, and as Chaplain of the Teams of Our Lady.
At the time of his retirement as Provincial Archivist in the summer of 1988, Father Wade was battling a recurrence of prostatic cancer. He fought on with faith for another year until the Lord called him home on Sunday evening, June 4. 1989.
Endowed with a good sense of humor, Father Wade had a keen and inquiring mind for just about everything under the sun - especially architecture, classical art and music, and even bird-watching -- with the exception of sports. Always the teacher, Father Wade, in his final months, edified his community and his friends by his peace and resignation as he was closely approaching the presence of God, day by day. His suffering, his pain, and his example taught all around him that dying in God’s grace is the safest and surest road to union with God in heaven.
Father Wade's classmate, Bishop James Charles Burke, O.P., was the Principal Celebrant of a Mass of Christian Burial in the Chapel of the Dominican House of Studies on June 7, 1989. Another classmate, Father Thomas Jordan Ertle, O.P., the Provincial, concelebrated this Mass along with other classmates and fellow Dominicans. Father John Patrick McGovern. O.P., preached eloquently and from the heart on this occasion. Following the Mass, the body of Father Harold Adrian Wade, O.P., was laid to rest in the Dominican plot of Mount Olivet Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
(From The St. Joseph Province “Lives of the Brethren”.)
Father Wade taught me American History at Aquinas from both a text, and from his actual life. A former Merchant Marine during WW II, we both liked American History. He would reminisce about his sea-faring days, but his overall view of history is what I liked. It wasn’t about memorizing dates, but adding the human element to one’s perspective of history.
When I appeared in his class, Father thought I should be put in the janitor’s closet, instead of his classroom, because he had taught my cousin P J Connor (Class of ‘60) and my brother George (Class of ‘61). He remembered their classroom antics a little too vividly. Luckily, Fr. Wade did not know that Mike Ryan (Class of ‘63) and Frank Weirick (Class of ‘63) were also our cousins.
My cousin P J figured out that just before Father gave a test was the best time to ask him about his WW II experiences. By the time Fr. Wade finished telling the story, the class period was over, and the test forgotten. My brother George managed to convince him, among other things, that the Burkes were part American Indian - Cherokee to be exact. Therefore, Father made me answer just about every Native American question that came up in class. He actually smiled when he asked me questions, or at least smirked, because he thought my alleged American Indian origin was a secret. To keep ahead of him, I had to read up on American Indians.
I recall that he found out that I was in a Civil War re-enactment group, and had “fought” at the First Battle of Bull Run in ’61. He smiled even more as he made me answer questions about the Civil War. The bigger his smile, the more I had to ferret out books to study on the Civil War. Soon, it became a contest of being one step ahead of him and his questions. He knew the Civil War pretty well, so I was introduced to historical research under fire. His wry subtle humor constantly threw me off balance.
At least, he made class fun. One time, we had a First Battle of Bull Run sham battle right in the classroom. Yes, we divided the class into the forces of the North and South, and got to do battle. It was supposed to be a tactics chalkboard battle, but by the end of the class it was hand-to-hand combat and a melee. Some of my fellow classmates did not seem to understand that a chalkboard battle was not a physical battle. Chairs were knocked all over, and the noise brought other priests into the room fearing we were rioting, and Fr. Wade was our prisoner. With a huge grin, Fr. Wade assured them all was well. Unorthodox teaching perhaps, but memorable and inspiring. He definitely made the class interactive and he was serious about American History.
Fr. Wade once took a couple of us to the cradle of Catholic history in Ohio. We went to St. Joseph’s Priory and Church (founded in 1818) near Somerset, Perry County, Ohio. There we toured both of these historic Catholic sites and viewed the cemetery where so many of the Dominican Brethren of the St. Joseph Province were buried. It was on that trip that I heard my first Ohio ghost story.
As we toured St. Joseph Priory, we noticed many altars for the priests to say Daily Mass, but one stood out in particular. It was far from the others, in a hallway outside the Prior’s office. It seemed a strange place for an altar. Fr. Wade explained that a priest would say Mass there daily, and one of his intentions was for the ghost that wandered the priory. Ghost! In America, let alone a priory, sounded unreal to us.
Fr. Wade explained that many years before, a new prior was sitting in his office late at night, when he looked up and saw an unknown friar standing near the door in full Dominican habit including cappa (black cape with hood). He asked the figure if he could help him, but received no response. As the prior rose from the chair to identify the friar, the friar seemed to vanish.
A bit shaken the prior said nothing to the other friars the next day. Several days later, the unknown friar appeared again, and again vanished when the prior moved towards him. This time the prior mentioned the incident to some of the older friars who had been at the priory for a while.
The older friars told him that the former prior had encountered the same disquieting visit. The new prior then decided that it was a deceased Dominican friar who had come to visit him and that prayers should be said for him. He had an altar built outside his office, and every Mass included prayers for the wandering deceased friar. The prior we met seemed to agree with Fr. Wade, so to this day, I still believe St. Joseph Priory had a ghost, which happily, we did not meet.
Fr. Wade enjoyed history and shared history with us at Aquinas. He went on to become the Provincial Archivist for St. Joseph Province. It is appropriate that it was Fr. Wade’s last assignment. Archivists preserve historical records for future generations.
As a history teacher, Fr. Wade gave many of us insight into historical perspective, and a love of history that prepared us for life. As Provincial Archivist, he preserved the research sources that will be needed by future historians. What more could be asked of an Historian!
Thanks to Fr. Richard Ambrose McAlister, O.P., Aquinas Class of 1952, for providing the Dominican Province of St. Joseph Lives of the Brethren Obit. Also, Special Thanks for his advice and prayers.
Thomas Aquinas Burke - Class of 1963
Aquinas College High School
January 2, 2004